Open Graduate Course & Call For Network Mentors

The University academic year begins tomorrow and I am delighted to announce that I will be teaching my open graduate course, EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education, once again. This will be the fourth time I have taught the course since 2007, and based on student feedback and network reviews, I believe it has been very successful.

However, being a critically reflective practitioner, I am hoping to advance my practice and further improve the course based on feedback from and interviews with course participants. This year, I am hoping to improve specifically on levels of trust between for-credit and non-credit students. I believe that increased levels of trust will lead to a more collaborative and rich learning space for all course participants.

EC&I 831 is an open course. This year, I have approximately 20 for-credit students (learners enrolled in the course for university credit). However, the course is also open to non-credit participants. This means, you, your friend, your neighbour, and your sister’s roomate’s dad’s hairdresser are all welcome to participate, especially if they are interested in topics such as social media & open education as these relate to K12 and university teaching. In the past, we’ve had over 200 non-credit students per term participate to various degrees

I have made this course open for three main reasons. First, I am philosophically committed to the concept of open education in all forms. That means I choose to publish only in open access journals and books (e.g., Emerging Technologies in Education), I attempt to model my professional life as a public scholar (e.g., my Open Tenure & Promotion Application) and I license my work under Creative Commons licenses (e.g., Considering CC-NC). Offering open access courses/experiences is an extension of this philosophy in practice. Second, I believe that there are powerful pedagogical affordances available to us when we leverage forms of open & networked learning. I have written about this previously here and here (also see comments for rich insight). And finally, it is my belief that in order for students to best understand topics such as social media and open education, they are well served through immersion in the context guided through authentic, experiential learning.

While I see much of this as common-sense, I’ve had my critics and was once even labeled as a techno-communist. As an aside, here was my response in the form of my own attack-ad.

How Can You Help/Participate?
So, in light of what I have learned in running the course the previous three times, I am proposing two options for non-credit students. First, there is the somewhat passive option that I have offered in the past. Participants can come to our weekly synchronous sessions (staring September 28/10) and learn from our guests (more to be added soon). You can comment on student posts, add suggested readings and tools to our Delicious tag, or perform other things mentioned here. There’s not much commitment, but you still get to participate, and we’ll certainly learn something from you. However, this semester, I am also proposing an advanced, non-credit participation mode in my Call for Network Mentors. Basically, I’m looking for knowledgeable and savvy volunteers who get to participate in the course sessions, but also will focus a bit on supporting/mentoring learners along this journey. I have written some ideas of what this would look like here but I’m really hoping it simply evolves into something good – good for my students and everyone involved – something I could never have anticipated.

So if you are interested in option #1, the more passive route (and really, there’s nothing wrong with that) – you may consider adding your name here.

And, if you are interested in becoming a network mentor, whatever that will soon mean, consider adding your name to the list found here. From the interest seen so far, I know that I will have many non-credit volunteers per for-credit student, so the workload may essentially be light.

Other important information:

  • Course is open to the public starting September 28/10.
  • All information about the course for all participants will be posted at the course site.
  • I will be emailing all Network Mentor volunteers information re: their role with necessary information (e.g, student feeds, twitter lists, etc.) by September 28/10.
  • Weekly sessions are listed here. They are held every Tuesday at 7pm Saskatchewan time. Currently that is equivalent to MST, but after the first Sunday in November, it is equivalent to CST.

Thanks everyone for putting up with this rather long blog post, and congratulations for making it to the end! I hope to connect with many of you in the months ahead. Thanks for considering this opportunity.